With loose, fluid brushstrokes, Hawthorne suggests the boats, cottages, and shore of this vibrant Cape Cod harbor while still emphasizing the flat surface of the canvas.
This canvas depicts Hyannisport, though Hawthorne spent most of his time in Provincetown, Massachusetts. He founded the Cape Cod School of Art there after helping to run William Merritt Chase’s school on Long Island. The town attracted many artists, and Hawthorne became known as the “father” of the art colony.
This sketch, with its vivid color and spontaneous approach, is much closer to the Impressionist spirit than the careful drawing and somber tones of Hawthorne's figural works.
Charles Webster Hawthorne’s Plein air Sketches of Cape Cod
Hawthorne is so strongly associated with Provincetown that it is something of a surprise to find that he took a painting trip to Hyannisport, about fifty miles away. What is even more unusual is that the works painted in Hyannisport are much closer to Impressionism than his normally realist Provincetown technique with its somber palette. A student of William Merritt Chase and a lover of the Old Masters, Hawthorne is equally known as a teacher and artist. His skill at depicting the fishermen in Provincetown is legendary, while his work in Hyannisport is much less known.
This loose, fluid sketch has the spontaneity of a painting rendered out of doors, directly before the subject. With unhesitating strokes of the brush, Hawthorne transcribed the boats, cottages, and shore of this Cape Cod harbor. He abandoned his usual somber palette in favor of the bright blue hues common to Impressionist seascapes. His summary treatment of the figure and boats, and his subtle distinctions between sky, shore, and sea, emphasize the flat surface of the canvas. This sketch of Hyannisport’s harbor is an eloquent expression of the artist’s love of the Massachusetts coast.
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